Burned Out?

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on February 5, 2009

images51Amid much rancor and speculation, many pundits struggle to figure out exactly what’s going on at the White House.  Clearly, many observe, something’s wrong with the messaging.   From the fumbled vetting of cabinet appointments to the inability to craft a clear, solid message on how, exactly, the stimulus “package” will work. Fortunately for the President, he’s maintaining his composure and keeping it cool.  It’s also worth noting that he’s doing something somewhat unprecedented in Presidential politics over the past decade: he’s admitting mistakes.

Here are a couple of recent observations:

Maureen Dowd: “It took Daschle’s resignation to shake the president out of his arrogant attitude that his charmed circle doesn’t have to abide by the lofty standards he lectured the rest of us about for two years… The Democratic president has been spending so much time trying — and failing — to win over Republicans that he may not have noticed the disillusionment in his own ranks. Betrayed by their bankers and leaders, Americans were desperate to trust someone when they made Barack Obama president. His debut has left them skeptical about his willingness to smack down those who would flout his high standards or waste our money.”

First Read: “When Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in Springfield, IL, here’s what he said: ‘I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.’ The irony? The folks that have caused him the most trouble in the last two years have old Washington hands like Jim Johnson, Bill Richardson, and Tom Daschle. If President Obama listened to his own rhetoric, he would have avoided all three embarrassments. He’s been making the case of changing the ways Washington did business, and NOT relying on old Washington hands is one of the ways to avoid old mistakes.”

Something we’re not hearing in this wave of criticism: maybe it’s not so much Obama or his staff underestimating the ways of Washington.  Maybe it’s something as simple as the pace at which their moving.  Who knows – but, as with the debate over multi-tasking and the growing demands of a wired society, shouldn’t there be a conversation about managing speed?  Striking a balance between quickly meeting high expectations and doing so in a careful, methodical fashion?

Could we be seeing the unfortunate results of moving too fast too soon?  There are reports of a White House reviving the late night work sessions and an Administration 2.0 heavily reliant on multi-tasking and use of multiple digital tools all at once.  Already, balls have been dropped.  Should the White House slow down a bit and assess the landscape? Is it in perpetual campaign mode?  And, is that healthy? True, we’re in a crisis requiring dramatic response. But how beneficial is that response if we’re moving too fast to think it through?


One Response

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  1. King Politics said, on February 6, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I’m willing to chalk this up to bad luck. And, unlike his predecessor in office, I believe Obama will learn from his mistakes. We’re not likely to see a repetition of errors.

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